Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of bronchiolitis in infants. In children with congenital heart disease (CHD), it is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Palivizumab is a monoclonal antibody that reduces the number of RSV-associated hospitalizations in children with CHD. We sought to assess cost savings and cost-effectiveness of palivizumab in children < 2 years old with hemodynamically significant CHD in a provincially administered RSV prophylaxis program.
Methods: A cohort of children who received palivizumab (N = 292) from 2003-2007 was compared to a historical cohort of children (N = 412) from 1998-2003 who met the eligibility criteria for palivizumab prior to initiation of the prophylaxis program. Direct and indirect costs and benefits were determined.
Results: The direct and indirect costs in the historical cohort were $838 per patient season compared to $9130 per patient season in the palivizumab cohort. Risk of admission was reduced by 42%, and days in hospital were reduced by 83%. The incremental cost of the RSV prophylaxis program was $8292 per patient for 1 RSV season. The incremental cost to prevent 1 day of hospitalization was $15,514. The cost of palivizumab accounted for 87.9% of the cost of prophylaxis.
Conclusions: Palivizumab is clinically effective; however, the cost was exceptionally high relative to the outcomes in this population. Given the financial constraints in a public health care setting, more strict criteria for patient selection or reduced drug costs would improve the cost-effectiveness of RSV prophylaxis.
Copyright © 2011 Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.